Glacier Basin - June 2016 - "...there are those you can call nothing but tourists. Those that go tearing from coast to coast and back again on their vacations are tourists. When they reach home from their travels they are not certain where they saw this or that…" - Abner Sprague
Sprague Lake is named after Abner Sprague, one of the original settlers in the Estes Park area. Sprague began building a homestead in Moraine Park in 1874. His ranch would eventually become a resort that was used for hunting, fishing, dude ranching, and even golfing. The property was sold to James Stead around 1900, and remained in business as the Stead's Ranch and Hotel until 1962. In the meantime the Sprague's would move to Loveland.
However, in 1910, seeking "to prevent my homesickness for Estes Park and the mountains from becoming chronic", Abner Sprague and his wife would build another guest lodge in the Glacier Basin area. This one was located in the current parking area for Sprague Lake. The National Park Service purchased the property in 1932, but gave the Sprague's a twenty year lease before razing the buildings in 1957. Abner Sprague would go down in Rocky Mountain National Park history once more when he became the first visitor to pay an entrance fee in 1939.
Sprague Lake is less than a mile of easy hiking on a good track from Glacier Basin Campground where we had camped up, just after lunch.
Sprague Lake on a blustery afternoon...no reflections!
The intention was to have a relaxing afternoon walking around the lake and taking photos…alas this was not to be….The Blonde had other ideas when she saw the breeze had disturbed the surface of the lake and there were no reflections in the lake to be had from the Rocky Mountains to the west.
So we jumped on the shuttle bus from the trailhead and took the 15 minute ride up to Bear Lake. As it was getting later in the afternoon there were a lot of people now making their way back and so after negotiating the crowds near the shuttle bus stop we headed out on the lake nature trail and quickly took a right turn off to Bierstadt Lake one of the less popular trails this side of the park. The first half mile was all uphill and then we settled into a fairly flat section before reaching the lake some 2 miles later. Stunning!! There was another couple there when we arrived at the lakes edge but they soon disappeared and then we had the whole place to ourselves. We spent an idyllic hour or so taking in our surroundings….”God’s Given Country”…you bet!!
Bierstadt Lake....serene and beautiful...and just us.
It was starting to get late in the afternoon and we still had a mile and a half hike back to the shuttle bus stop….and somehow we missed the turn! We didn’t realize this until about an hour into the walk on a very steep downward section of the track when we saw our campground over to the east. Eventually after an extra 2 miles we ended up in the main car park at the lower level. The shuttle bus pulled up less than 5 minutes after we walked in and then took us off to the campground after a little diversion to watch some more bull Elk feeding by the side of the road. The Japanese couple who were also on the shuttle were so excited to see the Elk they must have shot a 100 photos plus in less than 2 or 3 minutes.